The living room is quiet except for the TV, until we enter. Laughing and talking, it’s time for “our stories,” a term I’m here misappropriating from my grandmother. It’s what she called the soap operas, though in my memory she didn’t watch soap operas. Any rate, our story’s almost on, and there is companionable talk, and then we turn down the lights and settle in on the couch.
We are watching the show. Week after week, in rapt silence, we are watching the show as it draws us in, shocks us, confuses us, creates a little world where maybe, just maybe, we’re the only people who really understand. When the show is over, you will have to run out the door and so will I, because it’s your house, your mother’s house I mean, and you have to work the night shift and I have to go driving into the night quietly burning on my own.
Week after week, at your mom’s house, in the living room or the kitchen, depending on what your mom’s up to that week, we watch Twin Peaks and feel like we’re on the verge of something. When we do sit on the couch in the living room, and when no one else is with us, those are the times I feel most on the verge. I know it to be true. Inside I’m a yawing chasm of all the things I’m not telling you, not even mentioning all the ways I’m not touching you.
Nothing happens on that couch. Most weeks we’re not even alone the whole evening, though I admit my memory is hazy on this. Those weeks, those nights, that show, were 21 years ago. Why, if things had been entirely different and a Twin Peaks love child had come about from that time, she’d be able to drink by now!
It’s good that didn’t happen. But recently, re-watching the show, re-discovering my old crush on the show (oh, Lenny Von Dohlen as Harold Smith, you vulnerable, damaged man, you!), reminded me of all those things I didn’t have the courage to say, or to do. To you, with you, around you. The way I tied myself up so tightly I wasn’t really even being myself. Other times, around you, I was. Of course. It was easy. But on that couch, with those lights down, in that strange little world where our arms barely brushed, I couldn’t do it.
The person I am now, could. That time has passed, and I don’t want to go back there, but it’s good to know. It’s good to know I could. My best wish for you is that you could too. Be truly yourself, somewhere, with someone, on a dark couch in a flickering room.